Oahu is the most popular Hawaiian island to visit and the most populated island, offering beautiful beaches, a busy urban area, and bustling nightlife.
One of the best things to do when visiting Oahu is to explore the many beaches and watch the sun go down at one of the many beautiful places the island offers. There are several idyllic spots to watch the best sunsets on Oahu if you know where to look.
Sunset Beach, on the North Shore of Oahu, is a well-known surf spot for big wave surfing during the winter months and a great place to see some truly impressive surfers conquering the waves. If you do visit in the winter months, be sure to bring a pair of binoculars to take in the big-wave surfers tacking 15 to 30-foot waves at the Sunset Beach surf breaks. You might even catch the Triple Crown Surfing Contest spanning three famous Hawaiian surf spots throughout the winter surfing season.
As the name suggests, Sunset Beach comes into its own as the sun goes down and is one of the best spots for local surfers and relaxers alike to catch an amazing sunset over the water.
In the summer months, the surf at Sunset Beach is relatively flat, with big-wave surfers giving way to snorkelers in the lovely, calm conditions.
It’s worth renting a snorkeling kit and spending a few hours exploring the reefs just off the coast in the afternoon before finding a spot up on the beach to take in what is easily one of the most breathtaking sunset spots on Oahu. There are several water sports hire stores nearby where you can rent snorkeling gear or other equipment
One of the coolest things about Sunset Beach is that when visiting by car, you can drive along the Kamehameha Highway right beside the beach, with stunning views looking out over the water.
You’ve probably heard Waikiki mentioned as one of Hawaii’s major tourist areas, and it’s usually bustling with visitors who are drawn to the scenic Waikiki beach area. It’s a popular spot for a reason! Easily accessible from the hotels and resorts where many visitors stay, Waikiki beach is a unique spot to catch the sunset on Oahu with its iconic “green flash.”
When the sun dips to touch the horizon, a lime green flash of light can be seen for a few seconds before the sun lowers beyond the horizon line. The green flash can’t be seen at every sunset and on some occasions is more of a subtle coloring of the horizon but it is a truly magical experience if you are lucky enough to catch it.
Bring some beach towels and a small picnic spread to view a relaxing sunset from the beach or grab a spot at one of the bars or hotels nearby to enjoy the view with a drink – Waikiki has something for everyone.
The China Walls are rock formations made of lava rock and located on Oahu’s easternmost point. The rock formation juts out into the ocean and waves crash right up onto the rocks in a stunning clash of the water and the land. On a clear day, the water is bright blue and a few surfers can usually be found, although it is not a good spot for the inexperienced surfer.
Many visitors to the China Walls jump into the ocean from the wall, but be warned: unless you are a strong swimmer it can be very difficult to get back out of the water! The China Walls are also an excellent place to relax and catch the sunset, which can produce some beautiful red-gold hues stretching towards the horizon.
Getting to the China Walls can be a little tricky as it is located at the back of a suburban neighborhood, Hawaii Kai. You’ll want to keep the noise down when driving through the neighborhood so as not to disturb the residents. The trail down to the walls starts on a suburban street, Hanapepe Place.
Look out for trail marker 119A which marks the start of the path to the ocean. The trail is narrow but opens out at the end onto the beautiful view of the China Walls. China Walls is our top-rated spot for its lack of tourists and fun culture but it is definitely a prime sunset spot for young people and groups.
Traveling to Hawaii as a family or with young kids? You might be better off checking out Sunset Waikiki Beach or Ala Moana Beach Park.
If you’re looking for a little exploration before catching the sunset, Tantalus Lookout is an excellent spot for the best views of both the sunset and the Diamond Head crater. The views from the lookout are unmatched at sunset, stretching all the way to the ocean and the horizon.
Mount Tantalus is four miles north of Waikiki and is just a short drive from the main Waikiki area, around 20 minutes or so. The Tantalus Lookout can easily be reached by car, but it’s worth checking out the Ualaka’a Trail that starts at the lookout. The trail is a one-mile return walk to come back to the lookout.
Be sure to bring along a picnic mat to spread out on the grassy spot at the lookout to enjoy the sun going down over the Diamond Head Crater and the views of Waikiki spread out before you. Rainbows can often be spotted from the lookout as well, adding to the magical experience (and the instagrammable nature of this photo spot!) There is plenty of grassy space to bring along a frisbee or activity and the spot is a popular one for picnickers.
If you are planning to catch the sunset, be sure to arrive early as it can become crowded in the late afternoon. Arriving earlier will also allow you to enjoy the panoramic views in the afternoon light and as the sun is setting.
Ala Moana Beach Park
Ala Moana Beach Park is one of the most expansive beach areas on the west side of Oahu, featuring a sandy beach area as well as a grassy park area, tennis courts, and more! Ala Moana is the ideal sunset spot for a large group of people to come down and enjoy a picnic or barbecue, especially for families with young kids.
There is plenty of space to run around and throw a frisbee or kick a ball, and the calm water makes it a great spot for stand-up paddle boarding and for playing in the water with young kids. The sheltering reef essentially makes the calm waters at Ala Moana into a natural swimming pool and some locals can usually be spotted completing a lap or two.
Unlike the touristy reputation of Waikiki Beach, Ala Moana Beach Park is a favorite of locals and visitors to the area alike, as it really offers something for everyone. It has the same excellent accessibility to amenities as the Waikiki area, however, with restrooms nearby as well as multiple stalls selling food.
Ala Moana Beach Park is also located directly across the road from Ala Moana Mall, an open-roof shopping mall offering a range of brands, local stores, restaurants, and a food court. So it’s easy to pop across the road, grab a bite to eat in the mall, and browse the shops for a few hours before returning to Ala Moana Beach Park to enjoy the sunset over the water.
We recommend grabbing a shady spot under the palm trees with a good book to enjoy the afternoon and wait for the sunset to arrive!
Kaena Point is located on the north-western point of Oahu in the Kaena Point State Park. Kaena Point can only be reached by hiking, and the hikes are not for the faint of heart. This sunset spot recommendation is not for very young children or those that don’t enjoy a little adventure.
The Kaena Point Trail is 2.7 miles one-way and features a variety of beautiful scenery ranging from a volcanic coast with tide pools to natural stone arches and beautiful views of the coastline. Whales can often be spotted off the coastline, usually in the morning, and you can also see the large sea cave that is home of Nanaue, the shark man of Hawaiian legend.
You can start the hike to Kaena Point from one of two routes, one on the Wai’anae side and one on the Mokule’ia side. Keep in mind that the weather is often sunny and hot and there is little to no cover along the walk so it’s best to bring a hat, sunscreen, and lots of water. It’s best to consult the State Parks website for information on the hike and to ensure you are properly prepared before setting off on the trail.
The views of Kaena Point are well worth the hike, though. With a starkly beautiful lava rock shoreline meeting the pacific ocean, Kaena Point is a beautiful place full of Hawaiian landscape and culture. It is said that the souls of ancient Hawaiians would jump off Kaena Point into the spirit world to meet the souls of their ancestors.
Experiencing the sunset from Kaena Point is easily one of the most beautiful sunsets on Oahu and it feels like you are a world away from civilization, but be sure to bring a torch and a sweater for the return hike as it can get chilly after sundown!
Ko Olina Lagoons
The Ko Olina Lagoons are a perfect place on Oahu to visit for their natural beauty. The four man-made lagoons are located on the west side of the island and are designed to create a protected, calm, area for swimming and recreation.
The Ko Olina Lagoons are connected to several beach resorts, all with beautiful gardens and featuring various bars and pools within the resort grounds. One resort even has a waterfall pool filled with sting rays and hammerhead sharks! While it is not a naturally occurring phenomenon, the Ko Olina Lagoons area is serene and relaxing, a perfect location to watch the sun go down with a cocktail in hand. The gardens of the resorts are equally beautiful and certainly worth a walk around even if you are not a guest of the resort.
Another advantage of the ko Olina area is that it is slightly removed from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, contributing to a much more relaxing vibe for beachgoers.
We recommend checking out the sunset while enjoying one of the free outdoor movie nights on the resort grounds. Bring your beach towels and snag a spot on the lawn to enjoy both the sunset and an outdoor movie (with free popcorn!)
Located on the North Shore of Oahu, Waimea Bay is most recognizable for the famous jumping rock, where swimmers leap into the ocean to enjoy the crystal-clear water on a calm summer’s day.
In winter, Waimea Bay is a popular surf spot, with large waves, and is a great viewing spot to spectate world-class surfers. In the summer, however, the water is generally calm and attracts more swimmers and divers. The Bay is also a popular snorkeling spot, although there are no snorkel hire locations nearby, so be sure to pick up some rental gear before you go.
One of the most iconic locations on Oahu, Waimea Bay is a popular spot and can get busy, but it is worth checking out the sunset at least, as the rocks can make for some gorgeous photos of swimmers silhouetted against the sunset.
There are amazing sunsets to be viewed and new experiences to be had on Oahu wherever you look. Whether you prefer a rewarding hike away from civilization, an elevated viewpoint, or a family-friendly beach park experience, Oahu truly has a sunset spot for everyone. Enjoying the best of the island’s natural beauty as the sun goes down is sure to be one of the best things you will do on your trip to Hawaii.